Migraine Pain Relief Using Massage, Essential Oils, and Self Care   

Migraine Pain Relief Using Massage, Essential Oils, and Self Care

Although you may sometimes need medication for migraine pain relief, drugs can have undesirable side effects and often don't address underlying problems. Let's look at some self-care tips for migraine prevention and relief.

The first step is to consult your healthcare provider to know for sure your headaches are migraines. Severe pain doesn't always indicate a migraine. Also, you want to be sure you don't have another, more serious, underlying medical condition.

Common symptoms of a migraine headache are:

  • You feel pain, often severe or extreme, on only one side of your head. However, sometimes migraines cause pain on both sides, and tension headaches can also be severe.
  • You see auras (visual disturbances such as flashing lights or zigzagging lines) or experience numbness or paralysis 20 to 60 minutes before the head pain starts.
  • You have nausea and/or vomiting.
  • You are sensitive to light and noise.
  • You are unable to continue with your daily activities.

Massage For Migraine Pain Relief

How can massage help with migraine headache pain? People who experience migraines generally have stiff, tender muscles in the back of the head, neck, and shoulders. These muscles may have trigger points that cause pain. Massage to release the trigger points can reduce the pain and tightness in the muscles.

Massage therapy is great for reducing muscle tension and relieving stress. Massage is most effective when received regularly, ideally once a week until you are getting fewer headaches.

A few studies have shown that, at a minimum, massage therapy helps people who experience migraines sleep better and often significantly lessens headache pain.

When receiving massage therapy, be aware that mild discomfort can occur with even light, very gentle pressure from the most qualified massage therapist. However, if the pain becomes intense, immediately tell the therapist to stop.

Essential Oils For Migraines

Using essential oils for migraines can help relieve the pain and maybe even help prevent migraine headaches.

Lavender For Migraines

One technique that might stop a migraine you feel coming on is to:

  1. Fill a basin with 110-degree-Fahrenheit water. 
  2. Stir 5 drops of lavender essential oil into the water. (Another option is 4 drops lavender and 4 drops ginger essential oil.)
  3. Soak your hands in the water for a few minutes.

Or you could use a headache compress:

  1. Mix 5 drops of lavender essential oil into 1 cup cold water (or use 3 drops lavender and 3 drops peppermint).
  2. Soak a soft cloth in the water.
  3. Place the cloth over your forehead and eyes.
  4. Repeat as desired.

Source: Healing With Aromatherapy

Note: You can use hot water if you like, but most people with migraines prefer cold. You can also alternate hot and cold. Or use a cold lavender compress on your forehead, while at the same time using a warm compress with marjoram essential oil on the back of your neck.

If using a compress is inconvenient, another option is to diffuse an essential oil with an aromatherapy diffuser, use an aromatherapy inhaler that you can carry with you, or simply sniff an essential oil directly from the bottle.

Other Essential Oils For Migraines

If lavender doesn't work for you, other essential oils for migraine headaches that you can diffuse or use in a compress are:

  • Basil
  • Eucalyptus globulus
  • Helichrysum
  • Marjoram
  • Peppermint
  • Roman chamomile
  • Rosemary
  • Wintergreen

Source: Aromatherapy for Health Professionals

Here's an aromatherapy blend for a compress:

  • 1 drop frankincense essential oil
  • 1 drop peppermint essential oil
  • 1 drop basil essential oil
  • 1 drop lavender essential oil

Source: Essential Oils For Healing

Relaxation Techniques For Migraine Pain Relief


Relaxation techniques are safe with almost no side effects, although a few people might experience more anxiety rather than less. The following relaxation techniques can be done almost anywhere at any time:

  • Deep breathing: Breathe in through your nose as much as you comfortably can, letting your abdomen gently expand. Hold your breath for 3 to 5 seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat for three or four breaths several times a day.
  • Active relaxation: Starting with the muscles in your feet, tense and then relax each muscle group in the body until you reach your head.
  • Stretching is a way to loosen tight muscles and relieve stress.
  • Meditation and self-hypnosis are important relaxation techniques for relieving pain and stress. Meditation has four elements: a quiet environment, a point of focus such as a neutral word to help with concentration, being in a comfortable position, and an accepting attitude. Meditating one or two times a day for 10 to 20 minutes can relieve chronic stress and also increase your ability to tolerate stress.
  • Visualization involves using your mind to imagine how you can successfully deal with a stressful situation. Picture the stressful situation in your mind and then rehearse the outcome you want. You can also use visualization techniques to imagine a peaceful scene that you find relaxing.

More Migraine Pain Relief Tips

Migraine pain relief often requires a multi-faceted approach, including dealing with stress and physical imbalances.

Diet can trigger migraines for some people. Watch out for these foods:

  • Alcoholic drinks (especially red wine)
  • Foods containing the amino acid tyramine (such as, sour cream, yogurt, and aged cheeses)
  • Dairy products
  • Chocolate
  • Foods that contain additives (such as nitrites, aspartame, or MSG)

Other lifestyle factors that can trigger migraines include change in sleep habits, overuse of headache medicines, too much stress, and environmental factors such as:

  • Change in weather
  • High altitudes
  • Loud noises
  • Fluorescent or bright lights or bright sunlight
  • Strong odors

You might want to keep a food, lifestyle, and headache diary to see you if can find a correlation between these factors and your headaches.

Another possible trigger for migraines is emotional factors. Everything in life has an emotional component. If you want to address the emotional component of your migraines or any other condition, I highly recommend You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay.


Photo Credit: Diamond Farah via Photopin CC

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